6 Great Luggage Options

Because Life's Too Short for Bad Backpacks

Travelers can be notoriously difficult to buy for, but one thing they’re always in need of is high-quality luggage.

From collapsible carry-ons to bedbug-killing suitcases, gadget-charging messenger bags to backpacks that help reduce poverty, there’s something for everyone on your gift list.

Here are six of the best.

  • 01 of 06
    Barracuda Carry-On
    ••• Barracuda

    We’re always short on luggage space when we travel, but many of us are short on space in normal life as well. Trying to find somewhere to store bulky cases and backpacks isn’t easy in a cramped apartment!

    Barracuda ran a hugely-successful crowdfunding campaign to help deal with that exact problem, and its collapsible carry-on is now available at retail. The hard-sided case comes in six colors, and folds down into a storage bag to fit under a bed or hang from a coat rail.

    For the tech-minded, it also includes a 10,000mAh battery for USB charging, a fold-out laptop tray with a pair of cup holders, and a digital luggage scale. Location tracking is available as an optional upgrade.

  • 02 of 06
    Hedgren Framework backpack
    ••• Hedgren

    For a smart bag that’s as useful in daily life as it is on the road, check out Hedgren’s Connect range. It includes daypacks, messenger bags and more, in a range of sizes and styles, but it’s the charging and security features that set the Connect luggage apart.

    For physical security, there’s a SnapSafe zip lock on the main compartment to stop pickpockets and, on the backpacks, an EVA-molded guard pocket to protect things like cameras or headphones.

    There’s also an RFID-blocking pocket so that passports and credit cards can’t be scanned without your knowledge and a clip-on pocket for smartphones.

    Inside, there’s a dual-USB charging system, feeding from a battery in a dedicated pocket. When it comes time to charge that battery from the wall, you don’t need to remove it, thanks to a retractable USB cable.

    Whether going to the gym or away for the weekend, the Hedgren Connect range makes a great gift for the tech-heavy traveler.

  • 03 of 06
    Cotopaxi Volta
    ••• Cotopaxi

    If you prefer your gifts to come with a side of social good, check out the Cotopaxi range of bags and duffels. Registered as a public benefit corporation, the company funds sustainable poverty alleviation programs around the world.

    Cotopaxi has a range of bags, backpacks, and duffels, as well as travel clothing and accessories, but it’s the Volta 35L Rolltop Backpack that particularly stands out.

    Small enough for carry-on, yet spacious enough for an international trip, the Volta includes a padded external laptop sleeve, chest and waist straps, zipper locks and more. Compression straps help fit even more inside the bag, and there are pockets for water bottles, essentials and more.

    Durable and well-priced, with a lifetime warranty, the Cotopaxi Volta is luggage with a difference these holidays.

  • 04 of 06
    Gregory Border
    ••• Gregory

    Venerable backpack manufacturer Gregory has redesigned its popular Border range to make it sleeker, lighter and more useful. It comes in both 25 and 35-liter sizes, but they’ll both pass muster as carry-on luggage.

    The new clamshell design makes packing and unpacking easier, especially given the dedicated laptop and tablet sleeves when it comes time to remove all those electronics at the TSA checkpoint.

    With internal, side and top pockets to keep everything organized, and a sleek, uncluttered design, it’s a no-nonsense carry-on bag that gets the job done. Colors include demure green and black, and an eye-searing yellow if you’d prefer the bag to stand out in a crowd.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    ThermalStrike Heated Luggage
    ••• ThermalStrike

    Of all the souvenirs that might make it back from a vacation, bed bugs are undoubtedly the least welcome. Anywhere from the cheapest hostel to the fanciest resort can fall victim to these blood-sucking insects, and it often costs thousands of dollars to get rid of them once they’ve made an appearance.

    Realizing this, ThermalStrike offers a hard shell suitcase with a big difference. It’s the only luggage that can kill bedbugs, meaning you can eradicate any sign of them even before unpacking. Simply raise the handle, plug the case into a wall socket, and set the timer.

    Heating elements raise the internal temperature above 120F, killing both the bugs and their eggs without the use of pesticides. The polycarbonate cases come in 20” carry-on and 24” checked versions, with four-wheel spinners and built-in TSA locks.

  • 06 of 06
    RYU Backpack 18L
    ••• RYU Apparel

    Packing and unpacking are never enjoyable, and most backpacks tend to make the experience even worse. Rummaging around in the bottom of the bag takes forever… and the thing you want is never, ever at the top.

    As the name suggests, RYU Apparel’s Quick Pack takes a different approach. This 18L backpack is ideal as a day or overnight bag, with a molded internal shell that helps it keep its shape and a front panel that opens almost completely for ease of access. You can even hang it up on a coat hook or door handle, keeping everything at a more accessible height.

    The pack has a sleeve that handles anything up to a 15” laptop and is made from water-resistant canvas to handle knocks, scratches and bad weather.